To find high-level talent willing to come to El Paso, UTEP coach Tim Floyd sometimes must gamble on prospects most high-major programs deem too risky to take.
Some of those players have overcome their academic or behavioral issues to help UTEP win 18 or more games in three of Floyd's four seasons. Others either didn't last long with the program or never even made it to El Paso at all.
The latest UTEP signee never to don a Miners jersey will apparently be Chris Sandifer, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard rated No. 102 in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com. The former star at Taft High School in Los Angeles failed to qualify academically at UTEP and will instead enroll at Chipola Junior College in Florida, CBSSports.com reported Monday night.
Sandifer joins the growing list of UTEP signees whose academics prevented them from playing for the Miners.
Promising class of 2012 guard Anthony January failed to qualify academically at UTEP and spent time in junior college before joining New Mexico State this summer. The following year, the Miners lost highly touted Andre Spight due to poor grades and McDonald's All-American Isaac Hamilton when he reneged on his letter of intent and enrolled at UCLA instead. And this year, in addition to Sandifer, UTEP could also lose incoming recruit Shaq Carr to academic issues as well.
The loss of Sandifer is especially damaging because the former Missouri commit had the ability to make an impact right away with his scoring prowess. In one mid-December game last season, he scored 51 points and buried 11 3-pointers as Taft clobbered Cabrillo High.
As much as it probably hurts UTEP fans to see another top recruit slip through their fingers, it's still hard to fault Floyd for his approach.
He's trying to get high-major talent to come to El Paso and play for a program stuck in the watered-down Conference USA. In order to do that, Floyd has to take some risks others might avoid.
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